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Caller ID spoofing is the practice of altering or deliberately falsifying information displayed on caller ID systems, which are systems that are intended to identify the source of a phone call to its recipient. The practice is used for many different purposes by a number of different entities, such as private investigators, secret shoppers or just prank callers.
FCC (Federal Communications Commission) rules prohibit caller ID spoofing with the intent to defraud, cause harm or wrongly obtain anything of value. If harm is caused by the spoofing, then the perpetrator could be liable for steep financial penalties. However, caller ID spoofing is legal within certain contexts, such as to carry out a police investigation.
There are various methods with which to carry out a spoof attempt, one of the most popular of which is through VOIP (voice over internet protocol), which allows users to make calls over the internet while configuring their outbound display ID to their own specification. A very simple motivation for caller ID spoofing could be to mislead the call recipient into thinking a call is coming from a specific location, in which case that location’s area code might be displayed in order to manipulate the recipient into believing that.